‘Around 50’ houses torched by junta soldiers in several Myaing villages 

Junta soldiers burned an estimated 50 houses in six villages across Magway Region’s Myaing Township on Sunday as they continued a scorched earth campaign against civilians that has sent thousands fleeing their homes, local residents and a resistance fighter said. 

A leader from the Myaing People’s Defence Force (PDF) said he and others saw smoke rising from Wei Taung village from early morning until evening. “We saw that the houses in northern Wei Taung village were on fire from 5am until 7pm on January 16,” he said. 

“We don’t know the exact amount of damage as we couldn’t go and check the interior of the houses that were torched,” he added. “We couldn’t find out exactly which houses were being torched as we could only see it from afar.”

Soldiers also burned homes in Chaung Sone and Aung Chan Thar Sanpya villages in the north of Myaing, as well as in Tha Dut and Nyaungbin Lay, which like Wei Taung are in the west of the township. And they burned homes near the Kyauk Khwet petroleum near the border with Pauk Township, said Cross. 

The fires in Tha Dut started at around 9am while those in Nyaungbin Lay began at around 11am, he said. He joined a group who went to Aung Chan Thar Sanpya after the fires and saw that soldiers had piled up household appliances and burned them, he added. 

The soldiers also ransacked at least four other villages: Zee Phyu Sakaung, Thayet Kan, Sin Swel and Latyetma, he said. 

“They’ve been ransacking every single village in the area. A total of up to 10 villages have been ransacked and destroyed. We still don’t know the exact number of houses that were destroyed,” Cross said. 

The PDF estimates that around 800 soldiers split into seven columns are involved in the campaign. Residents of at least 20 villages across Myaing have fled the latest onslaught, the Myaing PDF estimates. 

In its bid to crush both armed and peaceful resistance to its rule, the junta has adopted a strategy of terrorising civilians, displacing local populations, and destroying their property. 

Last week locals in Latyetma found the badly burned remains of at least three people after hundreds of soldiers raided their village and made arrests.  

Much of Latyetma’s population of roughly 3,000 fled and soldiers occupied the village for three days, local defence forces and a resident told Myanmar Now. 

Myaing borders the townships of Pale and Salingyi in Sagaing Region, where the military has responded to guerrilla-style ambushes from resistance fighters with widespread atrocities against civilians. 

Soldiers were stationed in Myaing’s Zee Phyu Sakaung village overnight on January 14 and destroyed houses there, according to a resident. 

“They slept at the monastery and destroyed the houses in the village,” he told Myanmar Now. “They destroyed the supporting beams of the houses. Around five houses in total were destroyed. They also destroyed the appliances in the kitchen.” 

The soldiers destroyed two local shops in the village and piled up and burned property used for community events, such as electric lights, he added.  

He said he had heard an unconfirmed report that soldiers went on to raid villages to the east of Zee Phyu Sakaung, including  Myo Khin Thar, Thamin Chauk, Kyauk Taw and Kyauk Kan.

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